OLD TOWN — The city's top comedy troupe and dance company are preparing to make beautiful music together — but what their upcoming performance will look like in the end is still a work in progress.
Although nothing is yet certain in a collaboration between the improvisational comedy company and the highly choreographed modern-dance troupe, "The Second City Guide to Dance" is expected to be akin to "The Second City Guide to the Opera," which premiered a year ago in a joint production with the Lyric Opera. That production sold out the Civic Opera House and won a Jeff Award.
It figures to be a lampoon that also explains and celebrates dance. Tuesday's announcement featured Second City writers Kate James and Tim Mason stretching as they spoke and munching on a salad to mimic a dancer's diet. They then explained that a seemingly abstract dance performed by Hubbard Street hoofers Meredith Dincolo and Quinn Wharton was actually a day in the life of a writer, from a hangover in the morning (Dincolo hanging on Wharton's arm) to trying to be the life of the party due to family issues later on.
The joint production will involve performers with both the Second City and Hubbard Street, as well as Hubbard Street 2.
"Who wouldn't want to work with the writers and actors and all the talent at Second City?" Hubbard Street Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton said in announcing the production at Second City's Main Stage in Old Town Tuesday.
"We have a deep commitment to innovation in contemporary dance, and many of our works created in-house, by company artists or guest choreographers, are devised in collaboration in ways quite similar to how the Second City’s members create their shows," Edgerton added. "Improvisation is a key part of our DNA on both sides. So it's a natural fit for us to join forces, and I’m thrilled to watch this project make its way to the stage."
"I know you guys think it's a terrible idea," said Second City Executive Vice President Kelly Leonard to an audience largely made up of company staffers. Yet he also struck a more serious note.
"Our project with Lyric Opera was so creatively inspiring — not to mention such a business success — that our team met to discuss what other artistic mash-ups might be similarly satisfying," Leonard said. "The first idea proposed was that we collaborate with contemporary dancers, and Hubbard Street was the overwhelming choice for this partnership. The fact that Hubbard Street’s team had the exact same idea at the same time only proves that some projects are meant to be."
According to Leonard, it's not the first collaboration between the two companies. He said Hubbard Street founder Lou Conte taught Bill Murray how to tap dance.
The joint production will open Hubbard Street's fall season at the Harris Theater, Oct. 16-19, as the only program of the evening each night. Hubbard Street will go on to perform repertory programs later in its 2014-15 season at the Harris.